The VCU baseball team broke into the USA Today top-25 coaches poll last week and is off to its best start in program history with a 20-4 record.
After eight consecutive wins, VCU sits atop the Atlantic 10 standings entering the week.
The Rams opened interconference play with a three-game sweep of Saint Bonaventure University March 21-23. VCU’s Bill Cullen and James Bunn recorded stolen bases and Darian Carpenter hit his first homerun of the season. Seth Greene allowed only four hits and struck out six in seven innings en route to his second win of the season as the Rams coasted to a 7-0 win in the opening game. Bunn also recorded three hits and Carpenter’s homerun was the first hit of the freshman’s college career.
Propelled by a nine-run fifth inning and a subsequent five-run sixth inning, the Rams put on an offensive onslaught against the Bonnies, taking the middle game of the series 17-5 on Saturday.
Both Cody Acker and Matt Davis recorded three RBIs, James Bunn hit two doubles and Vimael Machin had two sacrifice flies. Heath Dwyer earned his second win of the season, helping to rescue a Rams pitching staff that gave up five runs and 11 walks.
“We started to gain momentum in the middle innings,” head coach Shawn Stiffler told VCU Athletics. “I was happy to get some different guys in the game from off the bench, who came in attacking and having a good approach from the get-go.”
The 23 hits were a season high for the team. Freshman Brian Goodling made his collegiate debut in the sixth, striking out three in two and a third innings.
The Rams ended their three-game homestand in exciting fashion. After plating 24 runs in the previous two contests, VCU had only two runs to show at the end of nine innings as it headed into the tenth, but a bases-loaded walk by Trevor Marino proved to be the difference as he scored Cullen to earn Matt Lees his fourth win of the season in a 3-2 victory.
JoJo Howie performed strongly in six innings, allowing only two unearned runs while striking out 10 Bonnies. SBU capitalized on errors by Vimael Machin and Chris Ayers, scoring unearned runs in the third and the fifth innings.
Machin worked a walk and then advanced to third on an Ayers single before Bill Cullen doubled down the right field line scoring Machin. A Logan Farrar sacrifice fly then scored Ayers to tie the game at two.
“Anytime you go out and try to sweep someone on Sunday in conference you know it’s going to be a tough task,” Stiffler told VCU Athletics. “Today’s conditions were not conclusive to a really offensive game but the guys grinded through it.”
A Wednesday, March 26 game against Old Dominion University was canceled, and the Rams on March 28 lost 6-1 against George Mason University. The Sunday, March 30 game against GMU was canceled, too.
Next up for VCU is an April 1 matchup with the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.